The Model Apartment review at Ustinov Studio, Bath – ‘raw and harrowing’
Ustinov Studio artistic director Laurence Boswell, already renowned for importing challenging works from elsewhere in the world, has opened a season of UK premieres from the Americas, with a raw and harrowing play by Pulitzer Prize-winning US author Donald Margulies.
First performed in Los Angeles 30 years ago, The Model Apartment focuses on a world-weary Brooklyn couple Max and Lola, survivors of the Holocaust, who suddenly collide with the spectre of their past at their new Florida retirement home.
Within hours of arriving, family foundations begin to crumble with the appearance of their insecure, almost maniacal daughter Debby, tormented by everything about the Holocaust that her parents have related over the years.
Margulies’ theme is the way in which children of survivors can be shaped by their parents’ experiences, one not without resonance in today’s world of terror and genocide.
Boswell directs the play’s difficult – at times almost absurdist – combination of riveting dialogue, brutal confrontations and dream sequences with great care, with Ben Ormerod’s high velocity lighting plot adding to the staccato nature of the narrative inside designer Tim Shortall’s bland condo setting.
Bath favourites Diana Quick and Ian Gelder contrast Lola’s fierce maternal protectiveness with Max’s determination to remember his Holocaust experiences only in his dreams. They bring real depth to two irretrievably damaged people, whose family scars have been inherited at great cost by their obsessive daughter Debby (well played by Emily Bruni) and her confused homeless boyfriend Neil (Enyi Okoronkwo).
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.